This season marks the beginning of the Fred Hoiberg era for Nebraska basketball, and with only two returning players, expectations for Hoiberg’s first Husker team are low. Where exactly should expectations be, though? Looking back to the first seasons of Big Ten coaches at their respective schools, we can find out where expectations should lie for the Huskers in year one under Hoiberg.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Brad Underwood is entering his third season at Illinois. Entering his first season in 2017, Illinois was coming off a 20-15 record in 2016 with an 8-10 conference record, and the Illini reached the third round of the NIT.
In Underwood’s first season, Illinois went 14-18 with a 4-14 mark in conference play. The Fighting Illini averaged 75.8 points per game while allowing 73.8, ranking 114th and 213rd in the country, respectively.
The 2017-2018 Fighting Illini lost four of their top five scorers from the previous season, returning only junior forward Leron Black. Black led the team in scoring during Underwood’s first year, as he averaged 15.3 points per game in addition to 5.2 rebounds per game.
Illinois’ second-leading scorer was freshman guard Trent Frazier, who averaged 12.5 points per game and was second on the team in assists, with 3.1 per game.
As a team, Illinois shot 43.9 percent from the floor in Underwood’s first year, including 33.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Indiana head coach Archie Miller is also entering his third season at his school. He inherited a team coming off an 18-16 record that returned three of its top five scorers. The Hoosiers went 16-15 in Miller’s debut season, as they averaged 71.9 points per game (No. 229) and allowed 70.3 points per game (No. 117).
Junior forward Juwan Morgan led the team, as he averaged 16.5 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. As a team, Indiana shot 45.6 percent from the floor and 32.2 percent from the 3-point line.
Fran McCaffrey inherited a total rebuilding job when he came to Iowa City in 2010, as the Hawkeyes were coming off three consecutive losing seasons. Iowa struggled in McCaffrey’s first season as well, posting an 11-20 record.
The 2010-2011 Hawkeyes scored 67.2 points per game (No. 220) and allowed 68.1 (No. 182). They returned two of their top five scorers and shot 43.9 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from 3-point range.
Junior guard Matt Gatens led the team in scoring, as he averaged 12.6 points per game. Freshman forward Melsahn Basabe and junior guard Bryce Cartwright also averaged double-digit scoring, as Basabe scored 11 points per game and Cartwright notched 10.9 points per game.
In 2011, Mark Turgeon took over at Maryland. He inherited a program that hadn’t had a losing season since 1992, and returned just one of its top five scorers from a team that went 19-14 the year prior.
In Turgeon’s debut season, the Terrapins went 17-15 and scored 68.7 points per game, (No. 155) but allowed 70.7 points per game (No. 267). Maryland shot 42.5 percent from the field and 33.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin led the 2011-12 Terrapins in scoring, averaging 21.6 points per game.
Like Nebraska, Michigan also has a new coach this season, as Juwan Howard replaced John Beilein after 12 seasons.
Michigan State Spartans
Tom Izzo took over in East Lansing for the 1995-1996 season. The Spartans were coming off a 22-6 season and NCAA Tournament appearance and returned three of their top five scorers. However, Michigan State only went 16-16 in Izzo’s first season.
Michigan State ranked No. 26 in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 64.2 points per game. However, they only scored 62.1 points per game (No. 290). The Spartans shot 42.8 percent from the floor and 32.2 percent from three.
A pair of seniors led Michigan State in scoring during Izzo’s debut season, as forward Quinton Brooks averaged 16.3 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game, while center Jamie Feick averaged 10.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
In 2013, Richard Pitino took over at Minnesota, replacing Tubby Smith. The Golden Gophers went 21-13 in Smith’s final season and reached the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota returned two of its top five scorers for Pitino’s first season and went 25-13, but missed out on the NCAA Tournament. However, the Gophers beat SMU to win the NIT.
Minnesota shot 44.7 percent from the field in Pitino’s inaugural season, including 35.2 percent from 3-point range.
Junior guard Andre Hollins and senior guard Austin Hollins led Minnesota in scoring in 2013. Andre averaged 13.6 points per game, while Austin averaged 12.4 points per game.
2013 also marked Chris Collins’ first year at Northwestern. The Wildcats were coming off a 13-19 season and returned three of their top five scorers. The 2013-2014 edition of Northwestern basketball went 14-19 and ranked No. 35 in scoring defense as they allowed 63.5 points per game. However, the Wildcats fielded the third-worst offense in the country, only scoring 59.5 points per game.
Northwestern shot 39.6 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from beyond the arc. Senior guard Drew Crawford led the team in scoring, averaging 15.7 points per game.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Chris Holtmann is entering his third season at Ohio State. In 2017-2018, his first season, the Buckeyes returned two of their top five scorers from a team that went 17-15 but improved to 25-9 and earned a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State scored 76.2 points per game and allowed 67.6 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from three, but the team was led by a breakout year from junior forward Keita Bates-Diop. He averaged 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game after averaging 9.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in a 2016 season in which he played only nine games.
Penn State Nittany Lions
2011-2012 marked Pat Chambers’ first season at Penn State. He inherited a team that went 19-15 and reached the NCAA Tournament but lost four of its top five scorers. Penn State went 12-20 in Chambers’ first season, as it scored 61.8 points per game and gave up 65.8.
The Nittany Lions shot 39.3 percent from the floor and 31.1 percent from 3-point range. Junior guard Tim Frazier led the team as he averaged 18.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game.
Matt Painter took over at Purdue in 2005 and inherited a team that went 7-21 the previous season and returned half of its top four players. The 2005-2006 Boilermakers scored 64.7 points per game and allowed 70.9 points per game en route to a 9-19 record.
Purdue shot 45.1 percent from the floor and 32.9 percent from beyond the arc. Senior forward Carl Landry led the team with 15.2 points per game, while four other Boilermakers averaged over 10 points a game.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Steve Pikiell became the head coach at Rutgers in 2016 following a 7-25 season the previous year. The Scarlet Knights returned their top three scorers and scored 65.5 points per game while allowing 67.1 points per game as they went 15-18.
Rutgers shot 41.1 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from the 3-point line in Pikiell’s inaugural season. Three players scored over 11 points per game, led by sophomore guard Corey Sanders’ 12.8 points per game.
Greg Gard took over as interim head coach following Bo Ryan’s retirement in 2015. The Badgers went 15-8 under Gard to finish the year 22-13 and earn an NCAA Tournament appearance. At the end of the year, Gard earned the permanent head coaching job.
In Gard’s first full season, each of the team’s top three scorers returned and the Badgers made the NCAA Tournament again with 27-10 record. Senior Bronson Koening led the team with 14.5 points per game, while fellow senior Nigel Hayes and sophomore Ethan Happ both averaged 14 points a game.
Looking back at the performance of the current Big Ten coaches in their first seasons, the majority either finished under .500 or slightly above it. Only Ohio State and Wisconsin reached the NCAA Tournament, and they each returned more production than Nebraska will this season. Therefore, if Hoiberg can guide the Huskers to a .500 record, his first season should be considered a success.